On the same day that forces of the Southwest Pacific Area poured ashore over the reefs at Morotai, Central Pacific troops began landing in the southern Palau Islands. Operations in the Palaus, more time consuming than those in the south, continued while Morotai was secured and the air base on the latter island was developed.
Preliminary Air and Naval Bombardment
The U.S. Third Fleet's fast carriers, the activities of which over the Philippines had promoted the radical changes in plans for the final phase of the approach to the Philippines, began strikes against the Palaus on 6 September, executing part of the program of strategic air support for the Morotai and Palau operations.1 These were by no means the first strikes against the Palau area. Fast carriers, then operating as part of the U.S. Fifth Fleet, had hit the Palaus at the end of March 1944 while providing strategic air support for the Southwest Pacific's April landings at Aitape and Hollandia.2 In mid July another heavy carrier attack was executed against the Palaus. These two raids resulted in much damage to shore installations and in the destruction of a few Japanese aircraft.
Land-based air attacks against the Palaus had been going on since early June, when U.S. Fifth Air Force planes based at Hollandia and Wakde Island began hitting targets in the western Carolines in support of the Central Pacific's landings on the Marianas. The U.S. Thirteenth Air Force sent bombers against the Palaus from the Admiralty Islands during the period 8-28 August and from Noemfoor Island during the second week of September. Other Thirteenth Air Force planes, based on Wakde, struck the Palaus from 25 August through 5 September. In its series of attacks from 8 August, the Thirteenth Air Force dropped approximately 885 tons of bombs on targets in the Palaus. In addition, these and other Allied Air Forces planes executed many
valuable photographic missions for Admiral Nimitz' forces.
When fighter planes of three fast carrier groups started sweeping over the Palaus on 6 September, they found that the efforts of the Southwest Pacific's land-based bombers had succeeded in eliminating many ground targets. Nevertheless, fighters and bombers of the three groups started full-scale attacks on all the principal islands in the Palaus the next day. There was no air opposition, nor had there been any on the 6th. On the 8th, because observable targets were scarce, the weight of attack was reduced, and the carriers began preparing to move to Philippine waters. During their three days at the Palaus, the carrier-based planes flew about 1,470 sorties, causing extensive damage to ammunition and supply dumps, barracks, warehouses, and a number of miscellaneous buildings. The groups claimed destruction of only four enemy aircraft, while losing eight of their own.
No attacks were made on the Palaus on 9 September, but the next day another fast carrier group arrived from the Yap-Ulithi area, which it had struck on the 7th and 8th. On the 10th and 11th the new force, Task Group 38.4, operated principally against antiaircraft gun positions and beach defenses at Peleliu and Angaur. The next day the Western Fire Support Group of Admiral Fort's Western Attack Group arrived to begin naval gunfire bombardment. Reaching the Palaus on the same day was an escort-carrier force, which co-operated with Task Group 38.4 in flying cover for the bombardment ships, striking additional targets on the islands, and providing close support during the landings.
Some naval bombardment had been undertaken by cruisers and destroyers accompanying the fast carrier groups which struck the Palaus during 6-8 September, but much remained to be done by the Western Fire Support Group. From D minus 3 through D minus 1 some 2,200 tons of naval projectiles were fired on Peleliu. The more obvious targets were covered, and special attention was directed to known or suspected Japanese artillery and mortar positions and beach installations. The shelling knocked down vegetation along Peleliu's central ridge, revealing numerous caves which had not been known to exist prior to the bombardment. During the bombardment, the Western Gunfire Support Group reported that it had run out of targets, and ammunition expenditure figures showed that fewer projectiles were fired on Peleliu than had been planned.
In contrast to previous operations within the Pacific theaters, mine sweepers had a great deal of work to do in the Palaus, for the Japanese had laid about 670 mines in the Peleliu-Angaur region and at least 240 more in Kossol Passage. Mine sweeping off Peleliu and Angaur was undertaken on the 12th, 13th, and 14th, while from 13 through 15 September Kossol Passage was swept. Nearly 175 mines were destroyed during the four days, and the location of the remainder was marked. Underwater demolition teams (UDT's), which also found some difficult tasks, began work on 12 September on the Peleliu beaches. The northern section of the landing area proved to have few obstacles, but much work was required on the southern part. Little work was necessary at Angaur beyond blasting away some steel rail obstacles off RED Beach.
The three days the UDT's spent working off the Peleliu beaches probably gave the Japanese some idea of the Allied landing
plans, a supposition supported by the fact that many hastily-laid land mines were found by the 1st Marine Division on or immediately behind its landing beaches. The marines had more reason to be unhappy about the results of naval gunfire, which had not been successful in destroying many mortar, artillery, and machine gun positions, including some on or near the shore. Japanese positions which the fire support ships pinpointed were generally demolished, but many hidden by natural or man-made camouflage remained intact, as did others in areas not accessible to naval gunfire.
While the preliminary air and naval bombardment had been going on, the assault convoy carrying the III Amphibious Corps to the Palaus had been approaching. Slower-moving groups (LST's, LCI's, and screen) had left Guadalcanal on 4 September, making an average speed of 7.7 knots. The faster transports and the LSD's, moving at 12.1 knots, left on the morning of the 8th. The course was generally northwestward through the Solomons, across the equator, and then northwest parallel to the New Guinea coast. Early on the morning of 15 September, both groups rendezvoused off the Palaus, and by 0515 had found assigned stations in the transport areas. The 1st Marine Division was ready to begin landing on Peleliu, while the 81st Infantry Division remained on ships offshore, ready to land on Angaur when so ordered.
The Peleliu Beachhead
Assault on Peleliu
15-23 September 1944
Maj. Gen. William H. Rupertus, commanding the 1st Marine Division, believed that the Peleliu operation would be tough but short, and he anticipated that the island could be secured in four days.3 This prediction, to quote the Marine Corps' history of the operation, was a ". . . striking manifestation of that preoccupation with speedy conquest at the highest division level which was to color tactical thinking ashore for a month to follow."4
The weather at Peleliu on D Day was ideal for landing operations; it was warm, visibility was almost unlimited, and only a light surf was running. Small craft and amphibian vehicles of the assault waves had no difficulty forming waves and moving toward the reefs fronting WHITE and ORANGE Beaches. The Western Fire Support Group, which began firing at 0530, carried out its D Day missions as planned. Air attacks, executed by carrier-based planes, were conducted from H minus 40 through H minus 25 minutes. The first assault wave (LVT(A)'s) began moving shoreward at 0800, under the protection of an LCI rocket barrage and aerial strafing attacks. Naval bombardment gradually rolled inland and to the flanks. The first wave touched shore about 0832, two minutes behind schedule, with the 1st Marines on the left, the 5th Marines in the center, and the 7th Marines on the right. There was little frontal fire, but as the troops pushed inland from the
beaches and as the amphibian vehicles crossed the fronting reef, both were subjected to mortar, artillery, and automatic weapons fire from the high ground of Peleliu's central ridge system, from a small point of land on the 1st Marine's left, and from previously unlocated positions south of the 7th Marines.(Map VI)
As succeeding waves pushed ashore, Japanese fire steadily increased, providing ample evidence that preliminary air and naval bombardment had not been as effective as hoped. Soon, like the reefs at Morotai the same day, the reefs in front of ORANGE and WHITE Beaches were littered with halted amphibian vehicles--DUKW's, LVT's, and LVT(A)'s. But the reason at Peleliu was far different. The amphibians there were put out of action by Japanese fire, not, as at Morotai, by mud and rough reefs.
Nevertheless, the landing continued. As the infantry pushed inland, opposition continued to stiffen, especially on the fronts of the 1st and 7th Marine Regiments. Elements of one company, on the extreme left, were cut off from the rest of the 1st Marines for over thirty hours, leaving a potentially dangerous gap on that flank of the regiment. The Japanese, fortunately, did not take full advantage of this gap to counterattack the beachhead area. In the center, the 5th Marines met only scattered resistance while pushing rapidly inland to the western edge of the Peleliu airdrome area. More trouble was encountered by the 7th Marines, on the south, both from strong Japanese defensive positions and from unmapped terrain features, such as a swamp which split the 1st Battalion as it advanced south from ORANGE Beach 3. The attack on the south stalled.
General Rupertus, who remained aboard ship until D plus 1, was by early afternoon more concerned with the situation in the 7th Marines sector than he was with developments in the 1st Marines area, where opposition had been growing ever stronger and from which counterattacks threatened. At first the general had received no reports from the 1st Marines--the bulk of that regiment's communications equipment and troops had been destroyed while moving shoreward over the reef---and later he obtained such optimistic or incomplete reports that he could form no clear picture of the situation on the north. He expected that all southern Peleliu up to the northern side of the airfield--the most important immediate objective--could be secured by dark on D Day, and on the basis of the information available to him, it appeared that operations were slowest in the 7th Marines area. He therefore committed the division reserve to that sector, but before dark only one company could get ashore.
About 1645 the Japanese began a series of counterattacks, the impetus of which was directed against the 5th Marines. An initial tank attack proved ineffective, as did later attempts by infantry-tank teams or infantry alone. After these attacks were over, one battalion of the 5th Marines advanced to the center of the airfield, producing a salient which marked the most substantial advance of the day by any element of the division. At dark the 5th Marines had also surrounded most of the airfield on the west, south, and southeast, and had extended its lines to a mangrove swamp on the eastern shore of the island. The 7th Marines had a line almost across the island from a point over 400 yards south of ORANGE Beach 3. The 1st Marines, less the isolated company on a promontory just off the north end of WHITE Beach 1, was almost to the northwest edge of the airfield.
About two thirds of the division's artillery had been landed, but the rest, as well as the III Amphibious Corps Artillery's 155-mm. units, could not get ashore on D Day. The destruction of amphibian vehicles was so great that only with difficulty had priority equipment and supplies been put ashore. Landing by amphibians was necessary, because small boats could not get over the reefs and no causeways or channels to open water could be constructed. Landing problems were further complicated by beach congestion resulting from enemy fire, mine fields, lack of good dispersal areas, and insufficient transportation ashore.
At nightfall the division had secured a perimeter roughly 2,800 yards long north to south. The depth, except where the 5th Marines had pushed across the island, was from 400-700 yards. This hold, ". . . so disappointing when viewed beside preliminary predictions . . . ,"5 had been secured at the cost of 210 men killed and 901 wounded, plus unnumbered heat prostration and combat fatigue cases.
Col. Kunio Nakagawa, tactical commander of the Japanese garrison, had planned a defense in depth and had available a mobile reserve. He managed to withdraw some troops from Peleliu's eastern arm on D Day, but the operations of the 5th and 7th Marines had cut off his southern defending force, built around the 3d Battalion, 15th Infantry. With this reverse and the failure of the afternoon counterattacks, Colonel Nakagawa decided to withdraw the bulk of his remaining forces to the ridge lines and high ground north of the airfield, there to hold out as long as possible, much as Colonel Kuzume had defended similar terrain with his Biak Detachment. The 1st Marine Division, spending a night harassed by Japanese mortar and artillery fire, was to be subjected to heavy fire from the ridge line defenses on D plus 1.
On this day the 7th Marines extended the hold on the south, seizing all that part of the island with the exception of two small promontories at the southern tip. The 5th Marines cleaned out most of the remaining part of the airfield area, setting up defenses at night in a hangar and shops center on the north side of the field. The 2d Battalion, 1st Marines, secured the northwest section of the airfield, including some headquarters buildings and barracks. But the rest of the regiment could make little progress north near the central ridges and had to content itself with closing the gap on its left and straightening out its lines. By dark, at the cost of about 30 more men killed and 115 wounded, the division had secured a perimeter over 3,000 yards long north to south and approximately 2,000 yards deep at the farthest penetration. In two days the 1st Marine Division and attached units had suffered almost 1,500 casualties, over 1,000 of them in the 1st Marine Regiment and its combat team attachments. Nonetheless, the most important objective, the Peleliu airfield area, had been secured, and the Japanese defenders had been split. One tough pocket of resistance remained on the two promontories at the island's southern tip, and the division realized that the principal remaining enemy strong point was located in the central ridges.
The Decision to Land on Angaur
General Rupertus assumed command ashore at Peleliu about 0950 on 16 September, D plus 1. Immobilized by a broken
ankle suffered during training at Guadalcanal, he could not travel about the perimeter to ascertain the situation for himself and he had to depend upon often cryptic, incomplete, and overoptimistic reports from front-line units. From these he apparently formed an opinion that operations were going fairly well. Whatever the case, he saw no reason on D Day nor D plus 1 to request that part of the 81st Infantry Division be sent ashore to reinforce the 1st Marine Division. All or part of the Army unit was available--one regimental combat team as III Amphibious Corps Reserve and the remainder until the tactical situation on Peleliu would permit it to land on Angaur.6 It is possible that the general's feelings may have been colored by a desire to make Peleliu an all-Marine operation, for he displayed a ". . . reluctance to employ Army troops . . . . "7
On the afternoon of D Day, elements of the Angaur Attack Group, which had brought the 81st Division to the Palaus, had feinted landings at Babelthuap to divert Japanese attention from the Peleliu action. No landing craft were launched from transports or LST's, but accompanying destroyers fired on possible landing beaches and some of the ships maneuvered off the northern islands throughout the afternoon.8
By noon on D plus 1, since General Rupertus had made no call for reinforcements, it appeared to higher commanders that 81st Division troops were not needed on Peleliu. Moreover, Rear Adm. William H. P. Blandy, the commander of the Angaur Attack Group, reported that from the results of air and naval bombardment, hydrographic surveys, and UDT activity, a successful landing on Angaur seemed feasible. After conferring, the commanders of the Western Attack Force (Admiral Fort) and the III Amphibious Corps (General Geiger) agreed that the Angaur landing could be executed on the morning of 17 September, as originally anticipated. Orders to that effect were issued at 1432 on D plus 1.9
The Assault on Angaur
During the early morning hours of 17 September, the ships of the Angaur Attack Group moved onto station off Angaur Island.10 At 0530 the Angaur Fire Support Group started its bombardment, employing for the most part slow, methodical area fire rather than shooting at specific targets. The fire was characterized by the 81st Division as being "very satisfactory,"11 and it accounted for about 40 percent of all naval shells thrown at Angaur from 12 through 17 September. The bombardment continued beyond the scheduled hour because support aircraft were late reporting on station. Dawn brought with it almost perfect weather, with unlimited visibility, little wind, and light surf. The 81st Division's assault troops had little trouble debarking from transports and LST's into the landing craft and amphibian vehicles which were to carry them ashore. By 0800 the LVT assault waves had begun
moving into position along the line of departure, 3,000 yards offshore.
At 0810 the assault vehicles began moving toward the shore, keeping about 300 yards behind LCI rocket and mortar boats. The naval bombardment was turned against the beaches, and strafing planes began reporting on station. Flanking LCI's launched their rockets against the beaches when the first LVT wave was about 1,100 yards offshore, and from other LCI's 4.2-inch mortars fired on the beach areas. The rocket boats proceeded to a point about 600 yards off the beaches and then swung to the flanks to let LVT's pass through. Strafing planes carried out assigned missions. At the last safe moment, naval fire shifted inland and to the flanks of the two beaches.(Map VII) The first wave of the 321st Infantry hit BLUE Beach, on Angaur's eastern shore, at 0831, one minute behind time. The first assault wave of the 322d Infantry, either delayed at the line of departure or thrown off schedule by offshore currents, was six minutes late reaching RED Beach, on the northeast shore of Angaur north-northwest of BLUE Beach. The only opposition to either landing consisted of a few rounds of Japanese mortar fire and some erratic small arms fire, neither of which caused any damage or casualties.
The 1st Battalion, 321st Infantry, landed on the left (south) half of BLUE Beach and the 2d on the right. Leading troops rushed up some 20 yards of slightly inclined, rubble-strewn beach to the crest of a low embankment, where a firing line was quickly established. Receiving negligible fire from Japanese weapons, these men soon became concerned over the danger of fire from the LVT's of succeeding waves, and their advance inland was further impeded by beach rubble, wire entanglements, and land mines. On RED Beach the 322d Infantry landed with the 1st Battalion on the right and the 3d on the left, or southeast. Again, troops quickly gained the crest of the beach slope against no opposition. Troops of succeeding waves, taking cover on the beach until their leaders learned something about the situation to the front, soon started inland after the men of the first wave.
Meanwhile, the 323d Regimental Combat Team (III Amphibious Corps Reserve) was feinting a landing off Angaur's western shore. Landing craft were launched from transports, attack waves were formed, destroyer and LCI fire was laid on the prospective landing area, aircraft produced an offshore smoke screen, and boat waves started moving toward the beach. This action may have diverted Japanese attention from the main landings and helped prevent Maj. Ushio Goto, the commander of the Angaur Sector Unit, from organizing an immediate large-scale counterattack. Also helping to prevent enemy organization were destroyer fire and aerial strafing or bombing missions directed against potential assembly areas inland.
At BLUE Beach all LVT's had been unloaded by 0900. LCVP's moved toward shore to disgorge troops into a few feet of water. Five LCVP waves reached the beach easily, but then the approach channel, narrowed by Japanese mines, became so congested with incoming and outgoing boats and amphibian vehicles that traffic was practically halted. This problem was soon solved by establishing tighter control over landing waves and by removing more mines and underwater obstacles. About 0930 LCM's and LCT's began landing medium tanks
and bulldozers, and before 1000 all the mediums of Company A, 710th Tank Battalion, were ashore. The battalion's Provisional Mortar (81-mm.) Platoon was also landed. Before tanks could move inland to take over the task of infantry support from LVT(A)'s, roads and exits had to be bulldozed through the debris and rubble with which the naval bombardment had littered the beach. Bulldozers of the 154th Engineers (Shore Party on BLUE Beach) accomplished these tasks rapidly.
Harassing Japanese mortar fire began falling on BLUE Beach shortly after 0900, and continued throughout the morning despite efforts of supporting surface and air forces to locate and destroy the mortar positions. As a result of this fire and because beach exits were still insufficient, the 321st Infantry, at 1030, requested that no more vehicles be landed. But General Mueller wanted to set the division reserve (3d Battalion, 321st Infantry) ashore as soon as possible, and at 1145 he ordered the battalion to land on BLUE Beach, where it was assembled by 1300.
In the meantime, the BLUE Beach Shore and Beach Party commanders had surveyed conditions on land. Finding that debris covered many of the proposed supply dump areas and that the arrival of the division reserve greatly taxed the capacity of available space, the two commanders recommended that supply unloading for the rest of the day be limited to the minimum necessary assault equipment and material and suggested that general unloading be delayed until the next day. Admiral Blandy and General Mueller approved these recommendations.
On RED Beach the first four assault waves had moved ashore with ease, but beginning with the fifth wave, machine gun fire from a pillbox on the left flank started to harass the troops. Several infantry squads and an LVT(A) neutralized the position for varying periods of time, but it remained sporadically active until engineers closed all entrances with several tons of bulldozed sand and coral debris. Enemy mortar fire, probably originating at high ground in northwest Angaur, also harassed unloading. Efforts to deny observation to the enemy mortars by laying smoke screens failed, and supporting naval vessels and aircraft were unable entirely to silence the Japanese fire, which continued intermittently through the day.
Difficulties arising from boat traffic congestion and inadequate beach space hampered unloading at RED Beach just as they had at BLUE Beach. RED Beach was also debris-laden, and the limited space available was soon clogged with vehicles and troops. The 52d Engineers (Shore Party at RED Beach), started moving its heavy equipment ashore about 0850 and bulldozers immediately set to work to clear exits through the rubble. This was slow work, and congestion was not relieved quickly. Then three LCVP's broached at the water line and further restricted landings until they could be towed off. About 0930, all in-traffic had to be temporarily halted.
By 1000 enough LCVP's had been dragged off the beach or sufficient vehicles and troops had been moved away from the water line for unloading to resume. Medium tanks of Company B, 710th Tank Battalion, began coming ashore about 1000 hours, and by 1030 all were 200 yards inland. About the same time the regimental commander decided that the beach had been sufficiently cleared to move his reserve, the 2d Battalion, ashore. Before 1130 all elements of the battalion had landed and were assembled just off the right flank of the
RED BEACH UNLOADING OPERATIONS. Note steepness of beach gradient.
beach. As had been the case at BLUE Beach, it was decided not to attempt any general unloading over RED Beach on the 17th.
Despite delays, the minimum necessary assault units and supplies were brought ashore during the day to make certain of having secure beachheads for the night. The 316th Field Artillery Battalion, which was to support the 321st Infantry's drive inland from BLUE Beach, began landing on RED Beach about 1600 and was in position, ready to fire, just before dark. The 906th Field Artillery Battalion, in general support, was emplaced at the same beach before 1630. All tanks of the 710th Tank Battalion were ashore by 1615. No artillery could be landed on BLUE Beach during the day because space was lacking and because proposed firing positions were not completely cleared of Japanese. The 317th Field Artillery Battalion, the mission of which was to support the 322d Infantry's drive inland from RED Beach, was finally set ashore on BLUE Beach about 1600 on the 18th. The 155-mm. howitzers of the 318th Field Artillery Battalion also reached RED Beach on the 18th. As a result of heavy opposition encountered by the 1st Marine Division on Peleliu, the III Amphibious Corps Artillery's 155-mm. gun battalion was not in position on that island in time to support the 81st Division's landing on the 17th. The battalion was emplaced on Peleliu by midmorning, but its fire was not called for by the 81st Division. Since opposition on Angaur was not serious, the loss of this 155-mm. fire during the landing and the loss of expected support from the 317th Field Artillery Battalion was not of great importance.
Operations Inland on 17 September
By 0930 troops and bulldozers of the 306th Engineers had filled a Japanese antitank ditch behind BLUE Beach, assuring armored support for the 321st Infantry which, already reorganized after the landing, was ready to follow its advance patrols inland. Company A, 321st Infantry, drove straight ahead to the west, while Company B pushed toward Rocky Point. On the right the 2d Battalion pushed north and northwest, one company moving along the coast toward Cape Ngariois, 500 yards beyond the north end of the beach. The division had begun to execute its plan to drive inland some 300 yards to a first phase line before establishing contact between regiments.
The advance in the 321st Infantry's sector at first proceeded slowly and cautiously--all units were in combat for the first time and were being subjected to intermittent mortar and machine gun fire from inland Japanese positions. The 2d Battalion gained 150 yards to the north and 250 to the west by 1000 hours, while the 1st Battalion had secured Rocky Point and was about 200 yards inland. An hour later, the center of the 1st Battalion reached the first phase line, here about 350 yards beyond the beach, but the regiment's flanks were still short of the line. Less than three hours after landing, however, the regiment had secured a beachhead about 1,200 yards long, north to south, and approximately 350 yards deep.
From the right flank of RED Beach the 1st Battalion, 322d Infantry, moved rapidly north and inland through less dense undergrowth than that in the 321st Infantry's area. Company C, 322d Infantry, pushed north on the right flank toward Cape Pkul a Mlagalp, almost 800 yards distant, at Angaur's northeast tip. Passing by many abandoned bunkers and dugouts, the unit rounded the northwest cape shortly before 1100. By noon it was at the northern end of the first phase line, located on the north coast 450 yards west of Cape Pkul a Mlagalp. One platoon, sent south along the phase line to establish contact with the rest of the battalion, returned about 1300 to report that numerous gaps existed along the 1st Battalion's front.
These gaps had developed because other 1st Battalion units, driving straight inland from the beach, had found the terrain so rough and overgrown that they had channeled their movements along a narrow-gauge railroad track leading generally southwest from the beach toward the first phase line. Following this track, which was designated the Seaboard Railroad, two companies reached the first phase line before noon. They spread north and south along the phase line, but a large gap remained between Company A, on the right, and Company C.
On the left of RED Beach, the 3d Battalion, 322d Infantry, had meanwhile been expanding the beachhead in its sector. Here, strong opposition from enemy bunkers built into jagged coral on the shore off the left of the beach caused some trouble, although elements of two companies attacked. So as not to become bogged down, the infantry left the positions to the tender mercies of engineer bulldozers and proceeded south and west inland. Company I pushed on to the 550-yard-distant first phase line quickly, establishing contact there with Company B. The unit's advance had carried along another narrow-gauge track known as the Pacific Railroad and through a network of defensive positions, most of which
proved to be unoccupied. Company K, which struck south-southwest from the beach, was still about 100 yards short of the first phase line at noon, while Company L, moving over very rough terrain along the coast south toward Cape Ngatpokul (1,000 yards below RED Beach) and the regimental boundary (terminating on the shore between Capes Ngatpokul and Ngariois) was about 400 yards short of the phase line. Its position was some 600 yards north of the regimental boundary.
By noon the troops of the 321st and 322d Infantry Regiments, though new to combat, harassed by intermittently heavy Japanese machine gun and mortar fire, and initially delayed somewhat by the difficulties of reorganizing on the rubble-covered beaches, had both secured firm beachheads. But progress inland, except in the case of the 1st Battalion, 322d Infantry, was far less than General Mueller, the division commander, had hoped. Moreover, a gap, of some 700 yards still existed along the first phase line between the regiments. General Mueller was faced with a choice of pushing the 322d Infantry on toward the high ground at northwest Angaur or halting the inland advance until both regiments could bring all elements up to the first phase line and establish and maintain contact along that line. The first choice had the undesirable feature of pushing a narrow, exposed salient into Japanese-held terrain. On the other hand, not to push the 322d Infantry forward might lose an opportunity to exploit the success on that regiment's right. Finally, he made a logical decision. About 1245 he ordered the 322d Infantry to push its right on to the second phase line, which, in the 1st Battalion's zone, lay roughtly 400 yards beyond the first. At the same time, in order to help the 321st Infantry's attack and establish a solid front along the first phase line, he instructed the 322d Infantry to drive its left south to gain contact with its sister regiment.
At 1430 the advances were resumed. The 1st Battalion, 322d Infantry, pushed westward into increasingly rough terrain along the coast and into a densely overgrown basin around the north end of Lake Aztec, the east shores of which marked the center of the second phase line in the regimental zone. But enemy opposition was light at this point, and within an hour and a half the battalion had reached the second phase line, forming a front along that line from the upper end of Lake Aztec to the coast. To the south, in a series of patrol actions against isolated Japanese positions, part of the 3d Battalion began execution of another part of the division's attack plans, taking the coastal area between RED and BLUE Beaches from the rear. One company advanced generally southwest toward the regimental boundary and the first phase line, and one platoon of that unit reportedly crossed the regimental boundary well into the 321st Infantry zone without finding any sign of the latter regiment. Actually, little ground was gained by the bulk of the 3d Battalion, 322d Infantry, during the early afternoon.
Neither did the 321st Infantry have much success in taking new ground. The 2d Battalion continued to be held up by difficult terrain and by Japanese opposition centered around defenses about 300 yards northwest of BLUE Beach's right flank. Elements of the battalion moving north from the beach, taking advantage of a trail rather than attempting to push through extremely thick jungle undergrowth, advanced in column, thus allowing a few rounds of enemy rifle fire to delay progress. Company G moved north along
the shore, a maneuver contrary to the division's plan to send the 321st Infantry inland to the first phase line before turning units north to clear the coastal area between RED and BLUE Beaches. Whatever the reason for the advance north, the 2d Battalion, by 1500, had gained little over 100 yards north and northwest from its reported position at 1100. On the south flank the 1st Battalion made little progress inland, for the unit had to mop up in the Rocky Point area lest Japanese be left free to attack the battalion's rear. Mopping up in the Rocky Point defenses--comprising a few reinforced concrete pillboxes and numerous coconut log revetments--was slow and laborious work which could hardly be speeded in the heavy jungle undergrowth inland and south from the point.
Action inland to establish contact between regiments was using up valuable time during which beachheads were supposed to have been deepened in anticipation of night counterattacks. General Mueller therefore decided to ignore the gap along the first phase line and about 1530 he ordered the two regiments to move independently on the second phase line in their zones. Quickly the 322d Infantry sent one column southwest along the Pacific Railroad and another down the Seaboard, about 350 yards north of the Pacific. Again the attacks were channeled along railroad beds and gaps developed all along the line. But no enemy opposition was encountered and most units of the 3d Battalion were on the second phase line before dark, by which time the regiment's front extended south along that line from the north coast to the Seaboard Railroad. Thence it jumped about 450 yards over a gap from a point a few yards south of the Seaboard to another a few yards north of the Pacific. One company extended the line back northeast along the Pacific Railroad toward BLUE Beach. On the north the 1st Battalion, just before dark, withdrew slightly from the second phase line to ground where it could obtain better fields of fire for its night defenses.
In the 321st Infantry's zone three companies, on the right, had also begun advancing toward the second phase line at 1530. The regimental commander, Col. Robert F. Dark, found after a visit to the front that there was little chance that his units could push to the second phase line before dark and that the terrain beyond the first phase line would not provide good fields of fire. With General Mueller's permission, he therefore ordered his men to move beyond the first phase line only to the point at which good fields of fire could still be obtained. This decision actually meant that before dark only a few men pushed beyond the phase line.
About 1700 the regimental reserve, Company C, was committed to aid units on the right flank. The reserve company pushed north and secured Cape Ngariois just before dark. For the night the unit dug in with its right on the cape and its left extending southwest and inland. Company G was on the shore behind Company C, while Company F was between Company C and the right of Company E, on the first phase line. Company A was on the same line on E's left, and Company B extended from A's left rear to the coast at Rocky Point. The 3d Battalion, released from division reserve to regimental control during the night, went into positions behind the 2d Battalion.
Plans for the 18th were for the 322d Infantry to continue its attack and seize the entire northern portion of Angaur while the 321st Infantry advanced to and held at the second phase line. There it was to act as a
SAIPAN TOWN AREA on the west coast of Angaur; phosphate plant and Lighthouse Hill in background.
pivot upon which the 322d Infantry would wheel around Angaur's northwest tip and south to the west coast at Saipan Town. Action on the 18th was to be preceded by three hours of preparatory air, naval, and artillery bombardment.
The Angaur Sector Unit might have taken advantage of the many gaps in the 81st Division's lines at almost any time after the initial landings. But Major Goto, instead of ordering his troops into an immediate mass counterattack, apparently spent most of the day trying to ascertain the number of American troops ashore and to discover American intentions. His defensive strength was concentrated in the southern section of the island where apparently he had expected an amphibious assault. About 0830 he ordered one of his companies (probably his central reserve) to attack the American beachheads, but made no effort to move the rest of his command. He believed that the 81st Division was going to land at more beaches--the feinting attack at the northwest coast had perhaps been successful in deceiving the Japanese. If defensive operations during the day proved
inadequate to prevent the invading forces from securing beachheads, Major Goto planned to counterattack during the night of 17-18 September. Neither this attack nor the one-company effort ordered earlier--which was apparently broken up by air and naval gunfire before it got under way--materialized.
By late afternoon it must have become obvious to the Angaur Sector Unit commander that the Americans were firmly established ashore. At any rate, he started moving his units and withdrew the southern defense force to the northwest hills, where he had decided to make his final stand. The strong southern defenses were abandoned. Artillery pieces, ammunition, and supplies of all types were left behind except for such extra ammunition as individuals could hand-carry. Moving north generally parallel to the 81st Division's front, the southern units probably reached the northwest hills during the early morning hours of 18 September. With his headquarters and some miscellaneous troops, Major Goto temporarily remained on Lighthouse Hill, located on the west-central coast of Angaur. From Lighthouse Hill he had good observation of the eastern part of the island and from it he could move rapidly into the northwest hills. With displacements to effect these new dispositions well under way, Major Goto apparently ordered his central reserve and an infantry company originally stationed at the northeast section of the island to attack or harass the 81st Division during the night of 17-18 September.
In the 321st Infantry's defensive sector, action on the part of the Japanese was limited during most of the night to patrolling, but early on the 18th they organized an attack. For about half an hour, the Japanese intermittently lobbed mortar shells into the lines of the 1st Battalion, 321st Infantry. Then, at 0550, a wave of enemy infantry broke out of cover below Rocky Point and fell upon Company B. The enemy quickly set up light machine guns and light mortars to support continuing infantry assaults. The company was forced back 50-75 yards toward BLUE Beach, and, as daylight came, established a new line slightly north of the Southern Railroad.
Now the 81-mm. mortars of the 710th Tank Battalion's Provisional Mortar Platoon laid a heavy concentration across the company front. At 0600 seven Navy planes strafed the entire Rocky Point area. Temporarily, at least, the Japanese attack was halted, although another slight withdrawal was necessary about 0700. The enemy, however, could not effect a general breakthrough and by 0745 the impetus of the attack had been spent. The 1st Battalion had suffered many casualties from enemy mortar fire, and the battalion commander with his S-2, S-3, and S-4 had to be evacuated for treatment of wounds. Company B, because it had incurred so many casualties, was replaced in the line by Company G, until then regimental reserve. Preparations continued for the scheduled 0900 offensive, while the Japanese on the left flank withdrew to occupy new defensive positions south of Rocky Point.
In the 322d Infantry's area, small groups of Japanese struck repeatedly during the night of 17-18 September against the defensive line south of Lake Aztec, near the boundary between the 1st and 3d Battalions. Confused fighting, concerning which reports are conflicting, ensued all along the front, but there was no general breakthrough. One small Japanese group worked its way toward RED Beach along the Pacific Railroad, falling upon one of Company M's
machine gun positions near the first phase line. After killing one of Company M's men, the group was repulsed. Only one small party pushed into the gap between the 321st and 322d Infantry Regiments' fronts. This was indeed fortunate, for had the Japanese exploited their opportunity at the gap, they could have moved on to the coast, possibly to create much damage at supply and command installations at the beaches, although the 81st Division was prepared for any such moves. The one Japanese group that did move into the gap withdrew at daylight without attacking any 81st Division perimeter.
Most of the Japanese who had maneuvered in the 322d Infantry's sector during the night apparently retired toward the northwest hills shortly after dawn, although one group---possibly that in the gap--swung south to the right of the 2d Battalion, 321st Infantry, north of BLUE Beach. This force attacked about 0900, just as the 2d Battalion was preparing to start its scheduled 18 September advance. Combined machine gun and mortar fire, aided by air attacks, broke up the enemy effort and by 1000 the Japanese had withdrawn.
The 1st Battalion's advance had been postponed until the situation in front of the 2d Battalion was clarified and Company G could complete the relief of Company B. No sooner had the latter task been finished than, at 0935, another Japanese attack originated from the Rocky Point area. Company G was pushed back from the line it had just established along the Southern Railroad and its left was thrown back to BLUE Beach. Air attacks, mortar fire, and LCI automatic weapons fire finally forced the Japanese to withdraw, and by 1045 the front had quieted down. The 321st Infantry could begin its attack.
Just what Major Goto hoped to gain by the night action is not clear. He may have ordered the attacks to cover the withdrawal of the bulk of his forces, with supplies and ammunition, to the northwest hills. On the other hand, he may have underestimated the strength the 81st Division had put ashore and thus believed that his counterattacks, which were carried out by less than two companies, could create serious damage among the American units. Whatever the case, he sacrificed the bulk of one company in the fruitless attacks on the left of the 321st Infantry. The unit which harassed the 322d Infantry apparently withdrew more or less intact into the northwest hill mass early on the morning of the 18th. Finally, Major Goto was successful in withdrawing his main force to new defenses, moving into the hills as large a quantity of supplies and ammunition as was humanly possible during the course of the night, and delaying the 321st Infantry's F plus 1 attack by two hours.
Securing Southern Angaur
While the 321st Infantry's attack was delayed principally as the result of Japanese action, the 322d Infantry's advance was nearly delayed without much help from the enemy.12 Sniper scares set off frenzies of wild, indiscriminate firing--principally on the part of LVT crews and engineer or service units at the beach--two or three times before 0900. Front-line units were pinned down by friendly fire from the rear and attack
preparations were slowed. When General Mueller arrived on land about 0930 to assume command ashore, the 322d Infantry's attack was still not fully developed.
Extending the Hold
Despite indications that the rest of the regiment might be delayed, Company K, 322d Infantry, started southwest along the Pacific Railroad on time. A platoon of mediums from Company B, 710th Tank Battalion, led the way. Forced by the nature of the terrain to move along the railroad bed, each tank was followed by an infantry squad which designated targets for the tank gunners. The tanks blasted suspicious-looking clumps of dense foliage, hit a few caves and bunkers, and fired at some buildings, most of which showed signs of hurried abandonment. Opposition was limited to scattered rifle and mortar fire. By 1100 the tank-infantry force had advanced some 500 yards to a clearing where the Southern and Pacific Railroads joined at a small railroad marshalling yard. Since supporting artillery fire was falling dangerously close, the advance elements pulled back about 75 yards, to be joined by Company L which had been moving down the Pacific Railroad driving a few Japanese before it.
At this juncture, apparently as a result of confusion of landmarks, six Navy fighter planes accidentally bombed and strafed the front lines of the 3d Battalion, 322d Infantry. Before the troops could find cover and the air strike could be stopped, 7 men had been killed and 46 others wounded. General Mueller, when he learned the extent of the damage, ordered air attacks against Angaur discontinued until further notice. The psychological damage was not undone for some days, for many officers and men of the 322d Infantry, having had their fill of indiscriminate firing by rear units before the morning attack, were prompted by the results of the air strike to distrust all friendly support fire. Their attitude was not helped by the Japanese trick of firing artillery and mortars principally when the 81st Division's own heavy weapons were firing. This trick had been used consistently by the Japanese throughout the Pacific war, and the 81st Division was no exception to the general rule that troops new to combat took a few days to learn to differentiate between friendly and enemy fire. It was some time before the 322d Infantry regained its confidence in supporting artillery, air, and mortars.
Despite the air strike contretemps, the 3d Battalion resumed its advance within half an hour after the last planes had ceased firing, pushing on to a Japanese phosphate plant and setting up defenses along a low, sandy hill immediately north of the shattered buildings. On the regiment's right, the 2d Battalion took over the advance while the 1st reverted to reserve. The battalion soon found that available maps did not furnish an accurate picture of the terrain in northwestern Angaur. West from the second phase line, the island's north coast comprised terrain not unlike that of the Ibdi Pocket area on Biak, with similar rough coral pinnacles, shallow shelves, and small ridge lines running in all directions. Like the Biak ridges, Angaur's northwestern terrain was honeycombed with natural crevices and covered by large tropical trees and thick jungle undergrowth.
One company moved forward inland expecting to find a gradual slope running westward about 1,000 yards to Lake Salome and the phosphate diggings at the southeast
edge of Angaur's highest ground. Instead, broken coral terrain, which made impossible the employment of the 710th Tank Battalion's supporting tanks, slowed the advance. Suffering from increasing heat, the unit could make only 300 yards west from the second phase line by noon. On the north coast another company pushed forward some 1,000 yards to the north end of the third phase line, where it found itself at the surf-washed base of a 75-foot-high cliff, a position similar to that at the Parai Defile on Biak. One platoon, meeting no opposition, pushed on to Angaur's northwest tip, Cape Pkulangelul, but no part of the company could locate any passage south over the cliffs.
It soon appeared to the regimental commander, Col. Benjamin W. Venable, that supply and evacuation along the rugged north coast presented at least temporarily insoluble problems. He therefore ordered the forward units to move back to the second phase line, but before dark all the 2d Battalion could not get back. Two companies remained strung out along the coast between the second and third phase lines while a third established contact at the second phase line with the 1st Battalion, which had extended its left south along the east shore of Lake Aztec and then southwest down the Northern Railroad to the 3d Battalion's area. The latter had pushed its right up the Northern from the phosphate plant late in the afternoon, but not far enough to establish physical contact with the 1st Battalion's left.
In the 321st Infantry's zone the 2d Battalion (comprising Companies C, E, F, H, and I) pushed north and northeast during the morning to mop up around Capes Ngariois and Ngatpokul and inland along the regimental boundary to the first phase line. The mopping up was not arduous except for terrain difficulties, and late in the morning the battalion made contact with rear elements of the 3d Battalion, 322d Infantry, along the regimental boundary. The 2d Battalion, 321st Infantry, then tried to push farther inland through the jungle parallel to the Pacific Railroad, but was slowed by heavy undergrowth, increasing heat, and scattered fire from hidden enemy riflemen. Shortly after noon the battalion commander changed the direction of march to due south toward the Southern Railroad. By late afternoon the main body was still 100 yards short of the second phase line, but advance patrols had made contact with 322d Infantry units near the junction of the Pacific and Southern Railroads. The 321st Infantry unit set up night defenses along the Southern Railroad and trails or abandoned railroad beds leading northeast.
On the southern flank of the 321st Infantry zone the 1st Battalion (Companies A, D, and G) headed inland during the morning along the Southern Railroad. Numerous antitank mines along the railroad bed held up supporting tanks and when, during midafternoon, the unit turned south off the railroad bed to take from the rear and flanks enemy positions on the coast below Rocky Point, heat and thick jungle undergrowth further slowed movement. Elements of Company G managed to push forward to the north end of GREEN Beach 3, about 600 yards below Rocky Point, but lost physical contact with the rest of the battalion and were therefore called back to the Southern. For the night, the units set up defenses along the railroad bed, tying the battalion's right into the left of the 2d. The 3d Battalion (Companies B, K, L, and M) remained in reserve near the left side of BLUE Beach.
Advances during the day, except for the salient to the phosphate plant produced by the 3d Battalion, 322d Infantry, had gained little ground. General Mueller was especially anxious that the southern part of the island be secured as quickly as possible, for it was there that the proposed airfield was to be constructed. Enemy information available to the division commander indicated that the main body of Japanese was still in the south, and exaggerated reports of heavy resistance on the 321st Infantry's front during the day probably did nothing to dispel such an opinion. Finally, optimistic reports from the 322d Infantry indicated that the regiment had occupied all of northwest Angaur except a tiny area of high ground. Apparently convinced that the enemy still held southern Angaur in some strength, General Mueller ordered the emphasis of attack on the 19th to be placed on a drive southward by both regiments to clear that area and to divide the remaining enemy forces.
The Occupation of Southern Angaur
The night of 18-19 September was noisy and nerve-racking all along the front and few troops got much sleep. Minor Japanese attacks harassed the exposed salient held by the 3d Battalion, 322d Infantry, while bats and large land crabs helped the Japanese to create distraction and started troops firing on nonexistent enemy infiltrators. Apparently no casualties resulted either from Japanese action or indiscriminate small arms fire. Friendly artillery fire did, however, cause some casualties. About 2030, four or five 105-mm. shells from the 316th Field Artillery Battalion hit the lines of the 2d Battalion, 321st Infantry, killing 4 men and wounding 15 others. The artillery fire was stopped before further damage could be done.
About 0730 on the 19th, after an extensive artillery preparation, the offensive was resumed. The 3d Battalion, 322d Infantry, advancing from the phosphate plant toward Saipan Town, found a number of pillboxes, bunkers, and other defensive installations so situated as to command the western beaches and the southern approaches to Saipan Town but presenting relatively harmless rear entrances to the American troops. Most of the positions were unoccupied and the battalion moved rapidly into the town against only scattered resistance. By noon the entire settlement area had been secured and the unit had regrouped along a road which ran southeast and inland from the southern edge of the town. The 2d Battalion (Companies C, E, F, H, and I), 321st Infantry, had meanwhile met only negligible resistance driving south from the Southern Railroad. The unit pushed through Middle Village (about 400 yards east of Saipan Town) keeping pace with the 2d Battalion, 322d Infantry, and by noon began pulling up on the same road where the latter was regrouping.
While these two advances had been going on, General Mueller, who had made quick reconnaissance of the front, decided that the rest of southern Angaur could be taken quickly and ordered the southern push continued. The 3d Battalion, 322d Infantry, moved down a narrow-gauge railroad line lying about thirty yards inland parallel to the west coast. Brushing aside a few small Japanese groups, the battalion moved on to Cape Ngaramudel and the north shore of Garangaoi Cove, about 1,300 yards above Angaur's southwest tip. There, about 1600, the unit started setting up night defenses, utilizing many deserted Japanese beach fortifications.
The inland flank was bent back along a road leading northeast toward Middle Village and the 2d Battalion, 321st Infantry. The latter unit encountered no opposition as it moved south from Middle Village early in the afternoon, but advance elements were halted at the edge of a large mangrove swamp which covered much of southeastern Angaur. The troops stopped to probe for routes through this obstacle and to wait for the 3d Battalion, 321st Infantry, to advance equally far south.
The 3d Battalion (Companies G, K, L, and M) had replaced the 1st at the front lines during the morning and had started south from the line of the Southern Railroad with one column on the beach at Rocky Point. It had to wait, however, for tanks to be brought up through difficult terrain before two Japanese 75-mm. gun positions could be knocked out. Attacks on other defenses in the GREEN Beach 3 area immediately brought down accurate Japanese mortar fire from emplacements to the northwest, indicating that the Japanese still maintained some communication between the isolated defenders on the southeast coast and mortars set up inland.
The other 3d Battalion column pushed south from the Southern Railroad until it hit the upper side of the mangrove swamp, whereupon it turned east toward the coast to join forces with the group already on the shore. Many unlocated Japanese mortars and machine guns continued to cause casualties, and by early afternoon the entire attack was stalled. Even additional mortar and artillery support failed to make the 3d Battalion's going much easier in the maze of Japanese defenses northeast of the mangrove swamp.
With the southward displacement of the 2d Battalion, 321st Infantry, from Middle Village, a gap had developed at the north end of the regimental lines. To fill this gap part of the 1st Battalion (now containing Companies A, B, and D) was sent south and southeast toward the 3d Battalion and the rest was moved forward to reinforce the 2d. Before dark, the units moving south into the gap could make little progress and established a night perimeter on the northwest edge of the swamp at a point about 600 yards inland from the 3d Battalion. The latter had been able to drive a few more yards south to set up defenses about 650 yards below Rocky Point.
Earlier in the afternoon it had been decided to outflank the mangrove swamp on the west and establish a line across Angaur south of that obstacle. The commander of the 710th Tank Battalion saw in this decision an opportunity to make an armed reconnaissance of southern Angaur, and he recommended sending some of his mediums south beyond the infantry lines. Colonel Dark approved this recommendation, and a company of tanks, six infantrymen of the 2d Battalion, 321st Infantry, aboard each, started south around the northwest edge of the swamp about 1330 hours. The rest of the 2d Battalion followed afoot.
Turning southwest down the Garangaoi Cove-Middle Village road, the tank column reached the cove apparently before the 3d Battalion, 322d Infantry, had advanced that far. The column then swung southeast and, following sandy trails, pushed on to the southeast coast below the mangrove swamp. So far, no opposition had been encountered. The 2d Battalion's infantrymen set up a defensive line which stretched across the island from the southeast coast below the swamp to the left flank of the 3d Battalion, 322d Infantry, which was now at Garangaoi Cove, while the
tanks pushed north along a narrow strip of dry land to the lines of the 3d Battalion, 321st Infantry. The tank column encountered little opposition as it passed through terrain where strong enemy defenses had been reported as holding up the 3d Battalion all day. Perhaps the Japanese preferred to let the tanks pass unmolested in favor of waiting quietly until infantry assaults were resumed. Just before dark the tanks completed a circuit of the mangrove swamp and took up defensive positions behind the 2d Battalion's new line.
Although the tank column had pushed through southern Angaur with unexpected ease, there was still some doubt at division headquarters concerning the location of the Angaur Sector Unit's main body. This doubt was engendered at least in part by a number of erroneous reports from front-line units. For example, the 2d Battalion, 321st Infantry, reported that about 1735 its right flank was struck by a banzai attack carried out by 200 Japanese. Actually, a small attack did take place at the specified time, but it was apparently conducted by fewer than 20 Japanese who had been cornered near Angaur's southwest tip. Another report, reaching division headquarters just before dark, located a number of rubber boats maneuvering around the southern tip. This report apparently originated in hasty aerial observation of surf-washed beach obstacles. Finally, about 1900, the 321st infantry reported that 300-400 Japanese were still in southern Angaur.
General Mueller, concerned lest the Japanese reported on the south break through gaps or weak points in the forward lines, had special defenses in depth set up at RED and BLUE Beaches, utilizing Shore Party and antiaircraft troops. All units were alerted to expect Japanese attacks during the night. The division expected (and perhaps hoped) that the Japanese still believed to be located in southern Angaur might launch a suicidal desperation charge during the night or at dawn on the 20th. The night proved very quiet until, toward morning, some small, scattered Japanese parties infiltrated through the lines of both regiments. There was no banzai effort--rather, these Japanese troops were apparently attempting to escape to the northwest hill mass from positions in the mangrove swamp and GREEN Beach 3 areas. Action at dawn was limited to a mopping-up operation directed against four Japanese discovered in the headquarters area of the 2d Battalion, 321st Infantry.
The attack on the 20th began about 0800 when the 2d Battalion (Companies A, C, E, F, H, I, and part of D), 321st Infantry, began pushing south from its night line. Attached to the composite battalion were two companies of the 710th Tank Battalion. The unit swept rapidly southward over the final 600 yards to the south coast and 800 yards to the southwest tip. Throughout the area there were numerous pillboxes, bunkers, dugouts, antitank trenches, dual purpose guns in strong emplacements, antitank weapons, and defensive barriers of all types. The Japanese had been well prepared for any Allied landing on southern Angaur, but only a few enemy soldiers were encountered during the final sweep south. By 1100 the entire southern area had been secured.
Along the southeast coast the 3d Battalion (Companies G, K, and L) resumed its advance about 0800. The 1st Battalion (now Company B and part of Company D) initially tried to advance southwest through the east edge of the mangrove swamp, but finding the terrain impassable, joined the 3d. The latter found that most of the Japanese who had manned defenses
in the GREEN Beach 3 area during the previous days had evacuated during the night. There was still some isolated, stubborn resistance from a few enemy positions, but progress was delayed principally by terrain and the necessity to explore thoroughly each enemy installation. By 1500 the coastal advance had progressed 1,400 yards to the southern edge of the mangrove swamp. To mop up a few Japanese who remained in the swamp and southeast coastal areas, the 2d Battalion was reformed and directed to move back up the east coast to BLUE Beach. Before dark, all battalions had reorganized and the final mop up on the east coast had begun.
All three battalions of the 321st Infantry continued mopping up in the south during the morning of the 21st, while the 81st Reconnaissance Troop searched through the heavily wooded terrain along the coast and inland between RED and BLUE Beaches, killing nine or ten Japanese. In the afternoon the 321st Infantry was alerted for movement to Peleliu, where the 1st Marine Division's operations had been slowed by strong opposition. Responsibility for patrolling in southern Angaur passed to the 322d Infantry, which already had its hands full trying to eliminate Japanese resistance in the northwest hills.
1. Information in this section is based on: CINCPAC-CINCPOA, Opns in POA Sep 44, pp. 39-40, 42-47, 70-80; MS, The Pacific--MATTERHORN to Nagasaki, Ch. IX, pp. 34-36; Com3dFlt Opns Rpt Palau-Ulithi-Morotai, pp. 3-4; Encl B, Results of Carrier Air Strikes, n.p., to same; Annex F, Air Rpt, pp. 2-3, to III Amph Corps Opns Rpt Palau; Encl G, Naval Gunfire Rpt, p. 2, to same; Annex K, Naval Gunfire Support, p. 8, to Phase II, Opns Annex, to 1st Mar Div Opns Rpt Palau; Drummond, The Palau Campaign, Ch. 11; Hough, The Assault on Peleliu, pp. 24-25, 36.
2. See above, Ch. II.
3. This section is based principally on Hough, The Assault on Peleliu, pp. 36-64, 67-70, 74-75. The following were also consulted for the landing phase: CINCPAC-CINCPOA, Opns in POA Sep 44, pp. 51-55; Encl. B, Opns, pp. 2-3, to III Amph Corps Opns Rpt Palau; CTF 32 Opns Rpt Palau, pp. 2-3; Narrative, pp. 2-3, to Phase II, Opns Annex, to 1st Mar Div Opns Rpt Palau. Enemy information is based upon the cited pages in Hough, op. cit., and on The Palau Operations, pp. 80ff. Since this phase of the operation is a Marine Corps story, excellently recounted in detail in Hough, op. cit., no attempt is made in this volume to provide more than the bare highlights.
4. Hough, The Assault on Peleliu, p. 35.
5. Hough, The Assault on Peleliu, p. 57.
6. Hough, The Assault on Peleliu, pp. 30, 54-56, 61; Encl B, Opns, pp., 1-2, to III Amph Corps Opns Rpt, Palau.
7. Hough, op. cit., p. 106.
8. CTG 32.2 [Comdr Angaur Attack Group] Action Rpt--Capture of Angaur Island, 1 Oct 44, p. 1.
9. Ibid., pp. 1-2; 81st Inf Div Opns Rpt Angaur, p. 19; Encl B, Opns, p. 1, to III Amph Corps Opns Rpt Palau; CINCPAC-CINCPOA, Opns in POA Sep 44, p. 55.
10. The remainder of this chapter is based principally on Drummond, The Palau Campaign, Ch. V, for both American and Japanese information. The reports and supporting documents of the 81st Division and its component and attached units were also consulted for additional information.
11. 81st Inf Div Opns Rpt Angaur, p. 80.
12. This section (and its subsections) is based principally on: Drummond, The Palau Campaign, Ch. VI; Ltr, Maj Nelson L. Drummond to Gen Ward, n.d., no sub, copy in OCMH files. The records of the 81st Division and its component parts and attached units were consulted for additional information.
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